Anne of Brittany: Life Story

Chapter 11 : Last Days

Anne, resigned to the idea that Claude would marry François, hoped that she could circumvent Louis’ plan to keep Brittany tied to France by arranging for Renée to marry Claude’s former betrothed, Charles, and be invested with Brittany. Louis’ niece, Germaine de Foix (who was also Anne’s first cousin), was now married to Ferdinand of Aragon, who was Charles’ grandfather. Anne gave Germaine power to negotiate the marriage.

Still Anne and Louis attempted to have a son. The queen suffered a final still-birth of a son in January 1512, and remained in poor health for several months. Once up, she made a trip to Brittany, in part because of the naval warfare that had broken out with England, as Henry VIII, in accordance with the aims of the Holy Leagues, was attacking French shipping.

In August 1512, Edward Howard (son of Thomas Howard, later 2nd Duke of Norfolk) and admiral of the English fleet, captured a number of French and Breton ships, and also led raids on Breton coastal ports. The culmination of the sea-battles took place off Brest on 12th August. Both the English flagship, the Regent, and Anne’s Marie-la-Cordelière, were sunk when the latter exploded.

The following year, Howard was killed in a further sea-battle, and his admiral’s whistle was sent to Anne, whilst Princess Claude was given his armour.

Whatever Anne thought about the rupture between Louis and Pope Julius, she played her part as queen of France by urging King James IV of Scotland to invade England in 1513 when Henry VIII himself led an army into France. She sent James a turquoise ring, with the request that he be her valiant knight – an idea well-suited to James’ romantic temperament.

Throughout 1513, Anne’s health deteriorated. She died on 9th January 1514 – her fifteenth wedding anniversary. She hoped to her dying day that Brittany could retain its independence, but Louis immediately recognised Claude as duchess of Brittany, and arranged her marriage to François on 18th May 1514. He himself, in hopes of an heir, married Mary of England, sister of Henry VIII (who had herself been jilted by Archduke Charles).  The marriage produced no children and Louis followed Anne to the grave within the year.

Anne died at Blois. Her body was interred at St Denis, in Paris, but her heart was deposited in the tomb of her parents in Nantes. Brittany became officially subsumed into France on the death of Claude in 1524, when the duchy passed first to her son, François, who died before inheriting the throne, and then to her second son, Henri, later Henri II.  

Tomb Of Francis Ii And Marguerite De Foix Nantes Cathedral Brittany By Adam Bishop Own Work
Tomb of Francis II of Brittany and Marguerite de Foix in Nates Cathedral, Brittany By Adam Bishop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons